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Senior and cancer patient Cesar Velasquez loads his car on Wednesday with household supplies he bought during a shopping hour at Target in south Colorado Springs for shoppers at high risk of coronavirus.

This article is updated multiple times a day with coronavirus news from Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak region and elsewhere in Colorado — and along with other COVID-19-related stories is free as a public service to non-subscribers of The Gazette. Click here to sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. If you're not already a full Gazette subscriber, click here for options.

- LlST:  What's open, what's closed

- MAP: Coronavirus cases in Colorado

- By The Numbers: Coronavirus in Colorado

- Coronavirus glossary: What all those terms really mean

     

The latest around Colorado

FRIDAY

- Colorado Springs Airport update: 

As the COVID-19 public health emergency remains fluid, COS will continue to work with local and state agencies to ensure that COS continues to follow all recommended practices and procedures from the CDC. We have incorporated several measures within our facility to help prevent the spread of disease and increase education and awareness. We will continue to monitor the situation and make all necessary changes to ensure the health and safety of our passengers, tenants and employees.

 While airport concessions are exempt from Governor’s Order Number 20-22, the health and well-being of our passengers and employees is our priority and recent changes have been put in place temporarily closing or reducing the hours of some Airport concessionaries. These will be consistently updated on the FlyCOS website and on our social media channels.

 Effective March 20, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., valet parking operations will be suspended for in-bound travelers and the Mortgage Solutions Financial™ Premier Lounge will be temporarily closed until further notice. Premier Lounge members will be able to park in short-term parking at no cost and are instructed to use a manned booth when exiting to have their ticket validated. COS will continue to update the traveling public on any changes made that may affect your travel.

THURSDAY ROUNDUP

El Paso County Public Health has identified six cases of COVID-19 in Laurel Manor Care Center in El Paso County. Read more here.

- State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet tested positive for COVID-19. She began running a fever Sunday night. She was last at the state Capitol for the March 14 session. Read more here.

- The Colorado Springs City Administration Building, including public services for City Clerk, Planning, Land Use Review, Sales Tax and Public Works will be open to the public on the lobby level only. Business usually conducted on higher floors will be reserved to a dropbox system in the lobby. City employees will be available from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. via phone or email for questions and assistance. More info here.

- Colorado small businesses impacted by #COVID19 can seek individual small business loans up to $2M as part of the @SBAgov's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses throughout all 64 counties may seek SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. More info here

- Gov. Jared Polis ordered the suspension of elective surgeries, closure businesses such as salons and spas, and extended the closure of dining areas at bars and restaurants in Colorado through April 30 because of coronavirus crisis. Read more here.

Click here for the full order on voluntary procedures. 

Click here for the full order on suspending in-person Secretary of State operations.

Click here for the full order on statewide business closures.

- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sent out a statement Thursday urging residents to self-isolate if they're experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. 

Self-isolation applies to people who tested positive for the virus, have symptoms of the virus or are getting ill and think they might have the virus, the statement said. The department asked that anyone who was in close contact with people who tested positive or has symptoms to self-quarantine. 

“Right now not everyone who has been exposed to or becomes ill with COVID-19 will be able to or need to have a test to confirm whether or not they have the illness,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, in the statement. “But isolation and quarantine, even without test results, is what people must do to slow the spread of this illness in our state. Even people who feel mild illness, and aren’t sure, should follow self-isolation orders, and their contacts should follow self-quarantine orders.”

Click here for the CDPHE's guide on isolation and quarantine.

- Medical professionals at Peterson Air Force Base are establishing a COVID-19 testing location Friday to help limit the spread of the virus, a Peterson news release said Thursday.

Patients must first be evaluated by phone and meet the recommended criteria for symptoms of the coronavirus, the statement said.

"Testing will be conducted at the Peterson car wash and is available for all members whose servicing medical treatment facility is Peterson or Schriever Air Force Bases," the base said. "The center will be open by appointment only, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Medical staff will test patients who will remain in their vehicle."

There have been no positive cases on the base. 

- The Colorado health department reported 277 confirmed cases of coronavirus Thursday afternoon up from 216. In El Paso County, 15 cases were confirmed up from 11 Thursday morning. Hospitalizations rose to 38 Thursday up from 26 on Wednesday. The state has tested 2,952 people.

- State. Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Commerce City Democrat, is the first legislator known to have contracted the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Full  story here.

- Deputy Medical Director for El Paso County Public Health Dr. Leon Kelly told county commissioners Thursday a second El Paso County resident has died from COVID-19. The man in his 60s had direct contact with the woman in her 80s who died last week. Kelly did not say exactly when the man died. The man is the third death in the state of Colorado. 

Kelly also said 11 COVID-19 cases have been identified in El Paso County, up from eight cases. Full story here.

- The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be postponed. The race, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, June 28, has been moved to August 30. Fan Fest, which attracts some 30,000 fans to downtown Colorado Springs the Friday before race day will happen on August 28. Full story here.

- Classes for K-12 public and private school students in the Pikes Peak region will resume April 20, area superintendents announced. Local school districts also are figuring out how students can continue to receive breakfast and lunch while schools are closed. Full story here.

- Because of Thursday's snowstorm, the UCHealth drive-through testing center at South Parkside Drive and Kidskare Point will operate from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. on Thursday. The center is located one block east of Memorial Park. To be tested, individuals must have a referral from their physician or provider.

- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order statewide banning gatherings of 10 or more people effective Thursday at midnight.

- The National Park Service announced the temporary waiving of entrance fees. This means visitors can roam places such as Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve without spending a dime. Full story here.

- Nearly 500 Fort Carson residents are in quarantine and eight in isolation, officials said Wednesday ahead of the Thursday opening of an on-post coronavirus testing center. Full story here.

- Colorado Springs-area school districts are partnering to offer free breakfast and lunch to children, regardless of which district they attend, during extended school closures. Find more information and a map here.

     

WEDNESDAY

- JCPenny is temporarily closing all stores and business offices until April 2.

- The Colorado Springs Fire Department is implementing new field triage procedures. Implementation of these procedures began on March 16, 2020.

The new triage system screens for potential COVID-19 patients; identifying those individuals who are healthy enough to remain at home, as well as those in need of more advanced medical care.

This change is necessary to reduce the overcrowding of hospital emergency departments and to reduce the exposure risk of those who are not suspected of having COVID-19. The exposure risk for individuals going through hospitals right now has increased. 

- Rep. Leslie Herod issued a statement today, part of which included: 

Though the legislative session is in recess, I have been working behind the scenes with my legislative colleagues to help connect people to the resources they need.

Today, Majority Leader Alec Garnett, Attorney General Phil Weiser and I called on student loan servicers, creditors and debt collectors to suspend mandatory debt collections for those unable to pay during this crisis. AG Weiser responded quickly and joined our call. See full statement here. I appreciate him standing with us.

- A shelter in place order mandating residents only leave their homes for "essential activities" was issued in San Miguel County Wednesday, according to the San Miguel County Department of Public Health.

While the county has no confirmed coronavirus cases, the order stated, local medical experts believe "with medical certainty they are treating patients with this COVID-19." 

The order, which takes effect Thursday at midnight and lasts until April 3, says that San Miguel County residents can only leave their homes for "essential activities," including tasks essential to health or safety, obtaining medical supplies, visiting a doctor, obtaining necessary household supplies, delivering food and engaging in outdoor activity that complies with social distancing. 

View the complete order here.

The order also states that any visitors to the county need to return home immediately and that any events of 10 people or more are prohibited.

County health officials said on Facebook that a shelter-in-place order means "dramatically limiting your time in public places for the sake of your health and your friends and family's health."

- The Salvation Army in El Paso County is in need of nonperishable food items such as; dried beans, rice, peanut butter, jelly, soup, tuna, canned chicken, dried pasta and pasta sauce. It is also in need of hand sanitizer for its homeless shelter. Items can be dropped off at 908 Yuma Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

- For local arts events that are continuing as scheduled, please double check PeakRadar.com and information from the presenting organization/venue.

- State extends suspension of downhill ski operations and suspends in-person learning in public and private schools.

- At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor John Suthers urged the importance of preparing for the economic impact of the virus.

"There is no question that we will see a precipitous decline for an undetermined amount of length of time in city revenues."

"While public health remains obviously our number one priority, I also want to echo the calls by our local business community to encourage lower-risk ways to stimulate local businesses. We've got businesses that are really hurting."

He encouraged citizens to utilize curbside pick up and local restaurants, calling it a "lower-risk way" to engage in the economy and a way to instill a type of normalcy in our lives.

He also encouraged citizens to help those in crisis by donating to an emergency relief fund through the Pikes Peak Community Foundation and the state.

A site created in light of the closures, SupportTheSprings.com, also offers ideas for supporting the local economy, he said.

"Folks, we have been tested before. We have had floods, fires, we've had economic downturns. This is a unique and very, very challenging test. We don't know how severe the economic damage is going to be. We're going to monitor it, we are going to see how long this takes place. It's going to be painful. We don't know how painful. But we are going to get through it."

El Paso County officials does not anticipate closing any regional parks, despite Manitou Springs' decision to close the Incline indefinitely, said County Commissioner Mark Waller.

Suthers encouraged citizens to take advantage of the city's trails and continue to exercise, as long as they continue social distancing. He said Manitou Springs officials did not consult him before making the decision to close the Incline and that he personally would not have made the decision to close it.

- The UCHealth drive-thru coronavirus testing center at South Parkside Drive and Kidskare Point is limiting its hours Thursday to the morning because Colorado Springs may see severe weather. The site is will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday. It is typically open from from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. Individuals must have a referral from their physician or provider to be swabbed for test. Tests are processed by the state or private labs.

-The Colorado health department confirmed 216 cases of coronavirus in the state as of Wednesday afternoon, up from 183 cases Tuesday. Eight cases have been confirmed in El Paso County.

The number of hospitalizations has also risen to 26 up from 20. Two residents in Colorado have died from COVID-19, including a woman in her 80s from El Paso County and man in his 70s from Weld County. The state did not announce additional deaths Wednesday. 

- Pioneer Elementary is opening up its Little Free Library to non-perishable donations. They are asking to leave something if you can or to take something if you need it. Any items can also be left underneath the box and they will make sure it is taken care of. It is located next door to Pioneer Elementary. More information here.

- Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument announced it is closing the visitor center. Rangers are available at the entrance to the visitor center to provide access to outdoor exhibits & trails in this part of the park. The picnic area and outdoor restrooms adjacent to the visitor center will remain open. The grounds of the Hornbek Homestead, the Barksdale Picnic area, and all other park trails will also remain open.

- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called on residents Wednesday to donate, volunteer and give blood to help address the coronavirus. The state has set up a coronavirus relief fund that has garnered $2.8 million as of Wednesday to help with a range of needs such as purchasing medical supplies for nursing homes, cleaning supplies for home care facilities, supporting homeless shelters and those who have lost their jobs. For more info about how to give visit covrn.com.

- The Manitou Incline is closed indefinitely, Manitou Springs officials decided. They called it "an attractive nuisance and health hazard." The city also announced that the free shuttle service to the Incline will end at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Read more here.

- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is calling out about 50 Colorado National Guard members to help out at drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 across the state over the next 10 days. Read more here.

- UCHealth has set up three tents to screen and, if necessary, treat patients that have respiratory symptoms or other concerns about about COVID-19 at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, UCHealth Memorial Hospital North and UCHealth’s Fountain freestanding emergency department. Staff working in a tent at Memorial Hospital Central started seeing patients Tuesday. The other two tents have been set up, but UCHealth has not set a date for those to open.  Read more here.

- The Colorado state capitol has closed to the public indefinitely. Staff and members of the media will continue to be allowed access to the building.

- The City of Fountain passed a Declaration of Emergency Related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), effective for the next 60 days. The declaration will permit access to local emergency funds, Federal and State assistance and adjustments to policies, procedures, and ordinances to ensure the public’s health and welfare. Read the declaration here.

- The Colorado Lottery has closed all of its claims offices through April 18. Winning tickets can be claimed via mail. They can also be held for up to 180 days after the drawing date. Winning tickets of less than $600 can be claimed at retailers thoughout the state.

- The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has canceled in-person graduation scheduled for May 15. UCCS also will extend for the remainder of this semester the remote learning and working environment that started Monday, officials said. Read more here

- Target is changing store hours nationwide and dedicating one hour each week to vulnerable guests. All stores will now close by 9 p.m. starting Wednesday, March 18. The change comes as employees deal with restocking during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

- Coronavirus by the numbers.

- Colorado Springs-area school districts are partnering to offer free breakfast and lunch to children, regardless of which district they attend, during extended school closures. Find more information and a map here.

- Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site in La Junta has canceled Saturday's Frontier Skills Day, while the park's gift shop will be closed indefinitely. Other locations within in the park will be opened and onsite staff will be available for questions.

- Gov. Polis ordered Wednesday the closure of Cripple Creek's 12 casinos to slow the spread of COVID-19. Read more here.

- All nine members of Colorado's congressional delegation supports a request by Gov. Polis to give access to emergency loans to small businesses and nonprofits. They could receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans. Read more here.

HelpColoradoNow.Org has already raised $2.8 million to help Coloradans who are losing jobs and access to other resources because of the coronavirus. Coloradans can sign up to volunteer or donate on the website. Read more here.

- The United Soccer League — which features the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC — has extended its season suspension to May 10. Initially, it was a 30-day suspension.

- The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed both I-25 Pinon Rest Areas. The rest areas, north of Pueblo, are being closed due to a public health and safety concern. I-25 Pinon rest area locations do not have running water that allows the public to wash their hands. There is not an estimated date when the rest areas will open again.

- The Teller County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday announced the initiation of a COVID-19 specimen collection site in Woodland Park. The site is a collaboration of Teller County Public Health & Environment, in partnership with UCHealth and the Pikes Peak Medical Task Force. The site is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, beginning Wednesday, at the Woodland Park Middle School, 600 E. Kelley’s Road in Woodland Park.

                   

KEY LINKS

More full coverage of coronavirus in Colorado.

MAP: A look at cases in Colorado.

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